The other day, I asked for some crowd source feedback for relationships and entrepreneurship. I got a lot of great feedback, but it’s funny that what I see as a benefit, that is my relationship with my husband to my entrepreneurial journey, others claimed that it wasn’t so for them.

So many entrepreneurs are single because of their work or so they say. Well today, I have invited my wonderful husband, Jeff Mirabella, on because we wanted to discuss how a partner can help or maybe even hurt your entrepreneurial journey, as well as share some tips to make a relationship thrive in the crazy world that [inaudible 00:00:39]. My name is Kelly Noble Mirabella, your hostess with the mostest here on the Business as Unusual podcast, where nothing is usual or typical, because that’s just not how entrepreneurship works.

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All right, I mentioned in my intro that my relationship is an asset for my business. Let me give you a little bit of background and then I will introduce you to the man, the myth, the legend, that is my husband. I met my husband, gosh, 10 years ago, has it been 10 years?

Jeff: This year, yeah.

Kelly: Yeah. This year, 10 years ago this next May. At the time I was working for a home builder and I hated my job. After about two years of dating, I made the move to Denver to live with my significant other and take on a corporate job doing social media for a restaurant supply company. Fast forward two years after that and I was let go because they just didn’t see the value in social media, which was a pretty common thing back in those days. I bet you anything though, they have another social media manager in that position nowadays.

It was at this point that I had a choice to make. Find another job, or do the thing I had been talking about doing for several years, which is start my own business. Now, if It were up to me, I probably would have let fear take over and just find another job. Luckily, I had a partner who is a really good listener, who is actually the one who said to me, “If I was going to do it, and now is the time.” We were not even married yet, but my man told me to take the leap. The rest is history, well, kind of.

You see, being an entrepreneur of any kind is not easy and being in a relationship with an entrepreneur might even be harder, so today I brought in my special guest, my husband Jeff, AK the man in my life, my rock, my inspiration, and the man who listens, gives great advice and keeps me on track. I’m obviously trying to butter him up right now and I also call him my husband or, you know, just babe. I brought him in to share with you both sides of the entrepreneurial journey and then the relationship that we have. What makes a great partner to an entrepreneur and kind of maybe some tips from both of our ends on how we just make it work. What advice do we have for anyone in a relationship with an entrepreneur and possibly more importantly, what can an entrepreneur do to be a great partner back to the building of an empire? So without further ado, I want to introduce you to my wonderful husband Jeff Mirabella.

Jeffrey, why don’t you go ahead and say hi, and introduce yourself.

Jeff: Hi, I’m Jeff Mirabella, AK babe.

Kelly: Isn’t that the truth. Tell people a little bit about what you do so they kind of get a sense of the awesomeness that is Jeff Mirabella.

Jeff: You know, I get paid to build spaceships, so that’s pretty cool. Then I do normal dude stuff outside of that.

Kelly: What is the dude stuff?

Jeff: You know, motorcycles, and golf, and baseball, and football-

Kelly: Tattoos and beards.

Jeff: Cigars, beer, wine, I mean normal dude stuff.

Kelly: For the record, I just want to point out that wine is not just a dude thing.

Jeff: Well, I mean it’s part of dude stuff.

Kelly: I suppose that’s true. Meanwhile, my husband and I are drinking right now so that we can get him all loosened up, because Jeffery is not a very talkative guy. I mentioned a couple of times, he’s a great listener and when I say he listens, I mean, the man listens to everything I say, which is amazing, because those of you who know me, know I like to talk. I’m buttering him up a little bit with some wine because he becomes a little bit more talkative when he might have had a little bit to drink, so there you go.

We have known each other 10 years in May. Kind of crazy. I mean, I could have told, a couple of times by my audience, my path in entrepreneurship and I’ve mentioned you many times as the person who kind of kicked me in the butt. They kind of get an idea of my point of view, but I think a lot of times entrepreneurs are blinded by their side of the story and that’s why a lot of them are single. I’d like for you to kind of talk about, especially that beginning part of helping me really become an entrepreneur and what we both had to do to set the tone for our lifestyle in the future.

Jeff: Yeah. As you mentioned, I’m a good listener. When you tell me the same thing two or three times, in my head makes me think that it’s really important and you just need something to guide you or push you just jump into it and do it. You mentioned this starting your own business quite a few times and I couldn’t think of anything stopping you or preventing you from doing it so that’s why I gave you the push, and it’s paid off so far.

Kelly: Yeah. Not bad right?

Jeff: Yeah.

Kelly: We like to spoil each other, we can afford it now. back in those early days, not so much. Like, we both worked really hard in the … I mean we still work very hard, but I think back then, first of all, we were very fortunate. We didn’t have kids at the time that I started my business and that I think makes a big difference. I do not envy people who have kids and want to start their own business right now. I mean, go you. I don’t know if I can handle the amount of hours that I used to put in and the amount of work that I used to put in.

At the time, Jeff was the person who, I mean you paid all the bills. Mind you we didn’t have like outstanding bills or anything.

Jeff: Yeah, so to put it in perspective, I mean we weren’t making millions of dollars, but-

Kelly: We still aren’t.

Jeff: … financially we were in a position where we didn’t have a lot of bills, our income was enough to cover-

Kelly: Your income was enough.

Jeff: My income was enough. We worked really hard to get to that point where we had minimal bills and we weren’t living an extravagant lifestyle, but we were comfortable.

Kelly: Yeah, we weren’t buying Starbucks every day.

Jeff: We had a roof over our head, we had meals on the table, and it didn’t kill us to try this out.

Kelly: Yeah, it was great. Good times back then. A lot of hours, working a lot of hours for me.

Jeff: You worked a lot of hours. Yes.

Kelly: You used to call me crazy.

Jeff: Yes.

Kelly: I used to go to so many networking events, which was tough because I’m actually kind of an introvert and I have a little bit of social anxiety, which people find interesting about Jeff and I is he’s the quiet one and I’m like kind of the more outgoing one, but the truth is, Jeffrey’s actually probably better in a group setting than I am, because I get really anxious.

Jeff: I don’t know. I’m pretty introverted myself.

Kelly: Oh, you hide it so well. I guess people think I hide it so well too, because they’re always surprised. You know, I think a thing that brings up an important thing is when you’re in a relationship with someone who is starting, especially on the path of entrepreneurship, you, from your point of view or from the significant other’s point of view, you have to understand that it takes so much more time to grow a business from the beginning. You’re almost like giving up, you give up a lot in order to build for the future.

Now, we go on dates, we go out to dinner, we spend a lot of time together, I don’t have to work crazy hours, so it’s like it paid off in the end, but those first couple of years is pretty tough on a relationship if you don’t have that understanding, or be supportive.

From my point of view as an entrepreneur, I’m working crazy hours. It’s a huge benefit to have someone who will support me regardless of the fact that they might not be the center of my attention all the time, which can be tough especially in the early stages of a relationship or even maybe if people were married and they weren’t expecting their significant other to have to step away from the relationship as much.

Jeff: No.

Kelly: From your point of view, as the significant other, what would you say were maybe the hardest things, or just maybe some tips for people who are in a relationship whose kind of a workaholic in the beginning especially.

Jeff: I don’t know. For me, the easy part was both of us were very independent before you made the move to Denver, so it was just a matter of me just reverting back to my independent days where it was just me and the dog hanging out. Like you said, you have to put in a lot of hours in the beginning stages of it. A lot of networking, a lot of research. I guess any tips from my end would be just be supportive, be understanding, that someone, if this is truly their passion, that you got to get behind them and help them and not be a burden, but help them be successful with this.

Kelly: Yeah, that support was paramount, not only in the beginning stages of my business, but even now you’re probably the number one person I go to when I need advice on something or if I’m just working through a new idea or something, mostly because you’re just a very good listener, but also I think another important factor of anyone who’s around an entrepreneur, you don’t give me advice because you know better, you give really good advice, even if I don’t agree with it, you give advice not from that perspective of, “Oh no, this is the way you should run your business,” but really more of, “Here’s what you’ve been saying, here’s some ideas to look at,” and really you help me take these crazy things that are flying around in my brain or what have you and bring it and make sense.

Whereas other people I’ll go to get advice and it’s like they know better, and that’s their advice and I hate that.

Jeff: Yeah. I fancy myself as a problem solver and you could pretty much apply that to anything and when you have problems there’s many different ways you can solve it, so I just want to make sure that you’re looking at all the different angles and just give you different perspectives, because you’re probably very blind sided, not blind sided but you have your blinders on when you’re looking for a solution and I think perspective can go a long way.

Kelly: I think that’s an important note for the entrepreneur is to understand your limits. You are not going to have all the answers, and often times, you don’t see what’s right in front of your face. That’s where Jeff really comes in with the good listening and stuff is that, he’ll hear me say things that I don’t realize I’m repeating over and over again, and then I’ll repeat it for the fifth time and he’s like, “Kelly, just do it.” You obviously need it. I’m like, it’s almost like I have an epiphany, like, “Oh, Oh that’s important.” I think it’s definitely important that you as an entrepreneur also don’t have all the answers. It is your baby, it is your business, but be open. Whether it’s your significant other, or your going out and just having coffee with friends or whatever. Be open to other ideas. You don’t have to take all the advice and do all the things, but be open to it, because I think that’s how you will definitely grow.

I also want to know that, I asked you what are some tips to get by those early on from your side of it, but I want to give a little push for the entrepreneurs out there who think, “I got to work really hard,” which is true, “I got to spend all these hours,” which is true. “My relationship is going to have to be pushed aside a little bit,” which in a lot of cases is true, but, a big but, you still need to make time for each other.

Your significant other, this doesn’t matter if you run a business or you work for someone else, your significant other is not going to sit around and wait forever. I mean, you got to do something to show that you appreciate them. Even in those early days, even though I was working crazy hours, we still made time for each other and that I think is an important lesson for the entrepreneur because you will justify pushing someone and taking advantage of someone because they love you and maybe they’ll put up with it for a while, but you have to appreciate your relationship, because in the long run if you succeed at entrepreneurship, but you don’t have anyone to share it with, it can be kind of lonely I could imagine.

I don’t have that problem, because I made the investment not only in my business, but also in my relationship, but as long as you’re both understanding that there’s going to be a little less date night.

Jeff: I guess I could offer one tip for the significant other would be to find a hobby, find a new hobby. Jump into something that you’ve been interested in. If Kelly’s busy working, I have plenty of other stuff to do, it’s not a big deal. I can go wrench on a car, or ride the motorcycle, just-

Kelly: Build a seismograph.

Jeff: … yeah, you know-

Kelly: He’s actually doing that.

Jeff: Just go find a hobby and when the entrepreneurs taking their time to put in the hours, you have something that you could be working on or take your mind off of it.

Kelly: Yeah. I also think it’s important to communicate. If you’re feeling that you need some love time, or you need a little attention or whatever, then say so, but don’t be nagging. I mean, you have to be understanding of each other’s situation. If you’re feeling a certain way, Jeff tells me all the time, “I can’t read your mind,” I am convinced he can by the way, but he says all the time, “I can’t read your mind,” and it’s true, we can’t read each others mind, so if you want … For me, I love date night. That’s one of my favorite things. We do at least one date night a month, which may not seem like a lot to you guys, but we have two small children, so date night can get real expensive, real fast with babysitters. You know what? If I want to have a date night, guess what I do? I plan a date night. Talk to each other.

Jeff: Its literally that easy.

Kelly: It’s literally that easy. You as an entrepreneur also if your significant other wants to go on a date or go do something, you know every once in a while, it’s okay to step away from your work and do something with them, because life is not all about work and you guys have heard me talk about working hard and not letting your pride get in the way and just pay the damn bills and all these things that are important about the beginning stages of entrepreneurship. It means so much to have a supportive partner to really help you out with that.

I think it’s awesome. What is it like being in a relationship with an entrepreneur? I mean, gosh, I’ve been in business for eight years. I’ve been in this entrepreneurial kind of … and you’ve seen me go from crazy hours to the ups and downs. What is that experience like?

Jeff: There’s a lot of risk in it in the beginning stages, but I mean, I gave you the ultimatum, “Don’t put us in a financial burden and you can do whatever you want.” We never had to experience the financial burden, so I don’t know.

Kelly: Yeah, I think maybe that’s something that a lot of couples struggle with is there is a financial burden. Not everyone can afford to live off of one income. I think that a lot of times people could probably live less extravagantly. You could give up the Starbucks every day, I might not be able to, but other people could. I did one time.

You can give up going out to dinner all the time. You can work it out. There are ways to save money, but as an entrepreneur, you need to swallow your pride sometimes and you need to do grunt work, and you need to have your prices lower, whatever it takes in the beginning especially, to get the bills paid, because it is unfair, I believe, to put my husband, or then boyfriend, still same person, my man, the babe, to put him in a position where he has to always be stressed out or that we are really struggling.

If that’s where you are, then you need to maybe take on a side job or whatever and then slowly build your company. You have to do what you got to do to pay the bills at the end of the day. Your dream is awesome and you should go after it, but there are ways to do that without putting yourself in massive amounts of debt and everything.

Jeff: Other than that, I really wasn’t worried about how it’s going to play out. You had a pretty solid game plan and you put in the hours and you adapted to the different situations and made the best of it.

Kelly: Yeah, so you got to do what you got to do. I mentioned that I crowd sourced. I actually asked the question on Facebook for those people that I’m connected to that are entrepreneurs. One of the questions I had was, “What do you think is important for both partners to do to make relationship work and the business work at the same time? I had my friend Beth Griffin, who is an entrepreneur, and her husband is also an entrepreneur, so I can’t even imagine what that’s like.

This is what she said, great advice by the way from Beth. She said, “Oh man, I think scheduling, like making sure there is a schedule just family, or just the two of you time, and making scheduling those two things top priority.” She says, “The beauty of what my husband and I both do is that for the most part, we can make our own schedules to be considered of each others scheduling and being sure to get that down time and day time in makes a world of different. Also of course honesty. Some nights we both have had a huge day and it’s just got to be pizza for dinner and no guilt.”

I have to agree with that. We’re pretty good about that too. If there’s a day where I have like, maybe the kids have been sick and I had to not work that day or for a couple of days, I just say to Jeff, “I got work to do,” and we’ll order some Chinese food or make something simple and then I go upstairs and work and he’s really supportive of that. I agree, just being honest with each other and being flexible with each other. That’s just good relationship stuff.

Jeff: Yeah, I mean communications key. I’d say it’s responsibility of both parties to monitor the situation and adapt to make it work.

Kelly: Absolutely.

Jeff: If I notice that you’re working and spending too much time away from the family, I feel it’s my responsibility to let you know that you’re too close to the fire, but vice versa as well, when you feel that you’ve been spending too much time from the family, you need to cut it off and spend some time with the family.

Kelly: It’s all about balance in the end. Not all entrepreneurs have families like we do and there’s a lot of big names and influencers out there, touting this lifestyle of the entrepreneur, fast cars, and fancy stuff and mansions and stuff, and making all this money, but in the end of the day, it’s just like anything else, you have a balance of I love my job, I love what I do, and I work very hard and I have worked very hard to get to what I have.

I also understand my husband loves his job, he loves what he does, he’s out doing his thing so he needs support there, and then we have a family. You have to find balance in your life and really it’s all about what do you want in life? Do you want to be happy? Do you want to have more time with your kids? Do you want more time with your significant other? Do you want to be single and just absorb yourself with your work? You, at the end of the day, have to make those decisions and then be okay with those decisions.

You can only blame yourself for living a life that’s not true to you. You can only blame yourself if you’re single, but you want to be in a relationship, but you neglected to be honest with your significant other or you know, all that stuff. Meanwhile, our daughter just woke up from her nap and she’s in her room calling me.

We’ll wrap up, but I want to talk really quick about maybe some things you should really avoid on both ends. We covered a lot of stuff that can be translated into avoid, like don’t neglect each other. That might be a good one.

Jeff: Yeah. Know when to turn it off.

Kelly: Know when to turn it off. Supporting each other’s not a don’t do, but not supporting each other, but is there anything else that you just think is so important to make something like this work? Because we’ve been doing it 10 years. I feel like we’re veterans at relationships in this real [crosstalk 00:22:09].

Jeff: Yeah, I think don’t bottle up your feelings. Communication’s key. If your significant other is an entrepreneur and they’re neglecting you, they’re neglecting family or they’re just putting too much time in, be transparent with them, let them know that, “Hey, we need to work on this,” or maybe there’s something you can do to help them so that they’re not spending so much time working.

Kelly: Yeah, I agree with that statement, that’s something you do. Just going back to if I’ve had a week where, because for those of you who don’t know, I do have a nanny that comes in, but if they’re sick or my kids are sick, I have to go to the doctor, I’m the one who takes care of the kids when that stuff happens. My husband works in the [Mohabi 00:22:57], he’s an hour away, it’s not like he can leave work to take the kids to the doctor, so those are things that … It’s a part of the blessing of being an entrepreneur, but I have to do those things.

There are days where I’ve left behind, so I could either juggle everything and do the regular schedule and then every night I’m working, or my husband sees that I need this, and not only sees it, but we’ll talk about it and he will be like, “I’ll take care of the kids, you go get your work done.” Then in one night, I hash out all my work and we’re back to normal. Sometimes that support is the thing that keeps it from dragging on and on, absolutely.

Jeff: Yeah.

Kelly: I think in the end, like anything else, whether you’re an entrepreneur or not, my best advice is to be respectful of each other, and be honest with each other, but be with someone who’s going to support you.

Jeff: Yeah, and for those single entrepreneurs out there, if you’re looking to get into a relationship and you’re dating or whatever, the same rules apply. Be really transparent with whoever you’re dating, “Hey, I put in a lot of hours at work, I work from home,” but as a professional you owe it to yourself to be transparent with them, to let them know what your goals are, and what your ambitions are with your career.

Kelly: I agree with that. That transparency is so important in all you do, absolutely. I think that any time that you work from home too, setting boundaries is kind of important. I know when I first started my business, I used to just work in the living room. That was not conducive to very good work schedules. Setting expectations, setting boundaries, that goes for anyone in your life, from your family to your friends, or long lost relatives who all of a sudden want Facebook training. You need to set boundaries.

We have an office here in our house that the door gets closed and I can get work done and people tend to respect that. When daddy needs to get work done, I take the kids and respect that. Yeah, setting the expectations and having boundaries with them, the transparency I think is huge because you’re not misleading people into a situation where they’re not … they don’t understand how much you really put into the work.

I think at the end of the day, I mean, like I said, I’ve been doing this eight years, we’ve been together 10 and it seems to be paying off pretty well for us. The patience, the hard work that we both put in in the very beginning.

Jeff: Well, I’d hate for it to be misleading. There were some challenges that business, finding people, clients was-

Kelly: That was tough.

Jeff: … challenging at first, but you really kind of carved out a niche and networked a ton to make those clients. It hasn’t always been super successful, some months we were just barely skimming by.

Kelly: Yep.

Jeff: You thought out the game plan, and you executed and you adapted to get to this point.

Kelly: Yeah, absolutely. That’s something I’m actually going to be talking about on the podcast next time, is the be that very first couple of whether it’s months or years, I don’t know what the deal is these days in the business, because back when I started in social media marketing, there was no demand for social media marketers. People were like, Facebook what? But you know, kind of dropping your pride and doing whatever it takes to pay the bills.

I think that you have to, especially when you’re in a relationship where you have someone else who is relying on the income you both bring in. We have kids and we’ve got expenses, and we’ve got things we’ve got going on that have to be taken care of. God forbid, something happen in my business and I lose all my clients over night, if it comes down to it and I need to pay the bills, guess who’s going to go look for a job? Now I don’t foresee that happening, because I’ve been in the business long enough like you said, I’ve built a niche, but it is important that you understand the limitations that you’re dealt with and then work within those things.

It’s not like you have to give up just because you have to pay the bills. It just means it’s going to take a little longer, so you have to have patience. When it comes to your business as an entrepreneur, patience is the name of the game. Hard work and patience. I guess that’s relationships too, hard work and patience. It’s like the magic sauce right?

That’s how we make it work. I hope that there were some tips in here that might help other entrepreneurs. I will say that if you are an entrepreneur and you’re working long hours and stuff and you have a significant other that’s not supporting you, the very first thing I would say is look at yourself first and make sure that you are giving your significant other what they need. It might not work out that you can do both, and then that’s a decision you have to make.

I think a lot of times, people are so easy to point the finger at the other person as to blame because they want so much of my time, or they won’t support me, but you’re not willing to give them a little bit of flexibility as well. Then on the other end of that, if you are doing what you can and they’re still not being supportive, you have to make a decision, and also talk to them I guess, right?

Jeff: Yeah.

Kelly: You should probably talk to each other before you give up.

Jeff: Yeah. I’ve said a few times now, transparency, it goes a long way. I cannot read Kelly’s mind.

Kelly: What? Come on.

Jeff: She seems to think I can.

Kelly: After 10 years, I feel like you can. Like you can see it in my eyes.

Jeff: Yeah, there’s times where we have to talk through things and make sure that we’re very clear with each other.

Kelly: Yep, and by the way, we do not have the perfect relationship. We are damn near close. I don’t want people to listen to this and be like, “Oh, whatever. They think they’re so perfect and stuff.” Jeff and I have been together 10 years, which we saw a lifetime together to go through the ups and downs of being husband and wife and having kids and running a business and everything, but we just thought it would be great to share our experience, because it has worked very well for us. I am not at all secretive about my success being directly connected to my relationship with my husband.

I truly believe that if an entrepreneur can work it out with their spouse where they can both support each others needs and wants and desires and dreams, that your business as an entrepreneur will thrive more than if you don’t have that supportive thing, because it is a lonely world to be an entrepreneur.

It’s just very isolating and if you have someone who’s like your ride or die, as they say, that’s going to have your back or call you on your shit, then I think that is a recipe for success, so I absolutely attribute my success to, well a lot of my success to my husband, because without him, I would not probably have a company today, because I would have been too scared to take that jump without that little kick in the butt that I needed, so thanks babe.

Jeff: Anytime.

Kelly: Anytime he said. Well, any last words? Any closing words for you before we end today?

Jeff: No, not really.

Kelly: That’s about it. He’s all, “Oh, you know.”

Jeff: You know.

Kelly: That’s what he says to me all the time. I go, “How was your day today babe?” “Oh, you know.” There you have it. I want to thank you all for joining us today, we really appreciate you listening in. If you have any questions or even better yet, if you have tips of your own for whether it’s tips for an entrepreneur or for the spouse of an entrepreneur, if you are in a relationship and you are also running a business, I would love to hear from you. If you have comments, you can comment on the show notes today or you can connect with me on twitter or Facebook@stellar247, or if you are listening via Anchor, feel free to call in, I would love to hear from you, and That’s that. I hope you guys are all out there doing what you can to make your business work, but also spend some time to make sure your relationship works as well.

Jeff: If you got any questions for me, you could reach out to Kelly as well, I’ll be happy to answer them, from the significant other side.

Kelly: I promise to pass them on. Yeah, if you want some advice from the side of the dude who had to put up with the entrepreneur, feel free to connect with us then. Obviously, my daughter has joined us. You want to say hi real quick?

Speaker 3: Hi.

Kelly: There she is. Someday we’ll do a podcast on how to be the daughter of an entrepreneur. Until then, thank you all for listening and have a stellar day.


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